It’s a strange time to be celebrating the 30th anniversary of CJ Design from my office at home in this weird world of post lockdown. And in an economic time when the IMF have predicted that the world is facing a significant economic downturn.
It was a very different world then 30 years ago and it’s a timely milestone to look back at some of the significant changes in our industry.

Advances in technology and digital design
In the startup year of 1990  we bought an Amstrad PCW 512 word processor and printer.

A year later we bought our first Elonex 286 SX-25 PC with 4MB Ram including maths co-processor, 40 Mb hard disk, twin floppy disk drives, 1.4MB 3.5” A drive and a 5.25” 500K B drive. Microsoft had just released windows 3.1!  

At home I used a Commodore 64 with an external storage facility – cassette recorder… connected to my 14” black and white portable TV.
In 1997 the company bought our first CAD Dell workstation with 64Mb Ram, 1Gb hard disk, AutoCAD R14 and an iiyama vision master 17” monitor which weighed a ton.

Printing was carried out using our 4 pen HP A1 plotter – drawings took an age and you kept your fingers crossed the pen didn’t get blocked or run out of ink…
Despite what sounds like some heavy duty equipment, looking back- all our design processes were so slow in comparison to the speed at which we can now develop design information and complete projects in 2020. It makes me realise how the pace of MEP design has accelerated over the last 30 years.  Standards for digital design and information exchange are now available to support the creation of digital-asset models. This has brought with it new challenges as building owners now expect high quality design input in a fraction of the time, with the added complexities of zero carbon targets and the demands of intelligent buildings.
BIM or 3D modelling for design of buildings and infrastructure is already a requirement for Public buildings in the UK building industry. We also have the advent of 4D and 5D BIM technology coming online, with AI technology used for designing Smart Buildings and the use of drones for surveying buildings.

At CJ Design we find that the increased use of software such as REVIT and Navisworks Clash-Detection offers a significant benefit in developing coordinated design schemes.Care has to be taken in determining the point at which the move to 3D design is made to prevent abortive design costs. In addition to the implementation of BIM software in our teams we have also streamlined our project software with the recent introduction of new project management tools including CMAP and Mail Manager. CMAP allows more efficient and sharper workflow processes and tighter project management. Mail Manager helps manage the conundrum of ever overflowing inboxes and helps us to work smarter.

Green buildings
Since 1990 there has been a continuing drive towards energy efficiency, which accelerated during the early part of the new millennium and with the publication of  the 2006 revision of the Building Regulations.
Last year we joined the excellent initiative, the ‘Climate Emergency Declaration where more than 70 building services engineering consultancies have signed a climate emergency declaration and pledged to cut the environmental harm caused by engineering activities. But, according to the recent 2019 Progress Report by the Committee on Climate Change, and the Business, Energy and Industrial  Strategy (BEIS) Select Committee report on energy efficiency, we are nowhere near on course to deliver.
Large changes in the way we design and manage our buildings are needed if we can get anywhere near the net zero carbon emissions we need to meet by 2050. We need to leave the world in a habitable state for our grandchildren and generations to come. CJ Design are now, more than ever, committed to embed low carbon design in all that we do.
No more so than on recent projects for a client who are world leaders in Fine Art logistics and storage, where together we’ve worked hard to overcome sustainable design challenges. In partnership with the Architectural team we promoted the use of passive low energy techniques. This included high grade thermal insulation and developing the building thermal mass to limit environmental shock, and the use of hydroscopic materials to control space humidity. These are techniques we have previously used on a project with the Imperial War Museum. These passive measures combined with minimal active supplementary environmental control ( delivered by heat pumps), ultralow specific fan power air handling plant and integrated heat recovery systems delivers a facility for the Client which enjoys great environmental control and minimal environmental impact and running costs.
Being an active part of the Building Services Declare Group of companies means we will continue to collaborate with industry and clients alike in addressing the urgent life changing Climate emergency.
Let’s see what the next 30 years hold for us in building services!

We’d love to hear your thoughts on building services 30 years in the future. What will they look like?


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